By Xu Wei | 2013-3-3 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
A student applies some final touches to her makeup while waiting to start the gruelling entrance exam to the Shanghai Theater Academy's acting department. More than 4,000 students are competing for the 50 places on offer.
Photo by Dong Jun
MORE than 4,000 students from all over China began fighting it out yesterday for just 50 places in Shanghai Theater Academy's acting department.
The entrance examination to win a much sought-after place runs until Thursday, said Xu Yong, an admission official from the academy.
It is divided into three rounds, with applicants judged in categories that include recitation, singing, dancing, gymnastics and an impromptu performance.
"The number of students vying for a place in the acting department has slightly increased this year," said Xu.
The results will be released in early April, though even then the trials are not over.
Successful applicants must sit nationwide college entrance exams in June and achieve a mark stipulated by the academy.
Despite these tough tests, Shanghai Theater Academy's acting department holds a strong appeal for young aspiring stars.
Li Sicheng, an 18-year-old student from Heilongjiang Province, has registered to sit the entrance exam for the acting departments of Shanghai Theater Academy, Beijing Film Academy and The Central Academy of Drama, also in Beijing.
And as all three are currently holding their exams, Li has been traveling between Shanghai and Beijing in order not to miss any.
"I've had a dream of acting ever since childhood," Li said. "My parents work in the arts and support my decision. I know how difficult the exams are but I will try my best."
Competition is fierce for a place in Beijing too.
More than 4,500 students are sitting acting exams at the Beijing Film Academy but only 75 will be enrolled.
And 50 places in the acting department of The Central Academy of Drama have attracted 9,600 candidates nationwide.
An industry insider cautioned that successful applicants still face a struggle to find fame.
"Becoming an acclaimed actor is not as simple as some people think," said Li Tian, a veteran TV producer.
"Only those with a real talent and passion for acting are suited."
"And even then it requires long-term devotion, perseverance, diligence - and some luck too. It's not a short-cut to fame," added Li.